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Lessons of the Semi-Tone Modulation


Day one of a super sweet gig in  Kingston is done! I love my summer life in Charlottetown, it's true. The cycling, tearing through the woods, spinning along the water, the bike riding, bikes, the rides. Oh yeah, and our great life there, and the job that Sue and I do to support all that..... The Charlottetown Festival. A big part of that great life, maybe the biggest part, is our orchestra, and our Music Directors Bob Foster and Craig Fair. These wonderful musicians, and inspired leaders create a work environment where we can make music and pursue excellence without some of the stresses we orchestral musicians often feel. Truly the Charlottetown Festival Orchestra is one of the most joyful work places anywhere, and we all cherish it.

Which is a longwinded precursor to saying that this job in Kingston is all that. Craig Fair is Music Directing a show of musical theatre (in very few rehearsals) for two performances in Brockville and Kingston. He's invited Evan Stewart and me to anchor the low end of the band, and lo and behold it's a blast! I'm not the biggest musical theatre fan, I'm a little too much of a snob for that (even though I'm a total sucker for those tear jerker melodies....don't ask). But there's nothing like forty pages of musically chasing singers around a stage in the widest variety of keys, to work the note reading brain. This (besides the excellent accommodations, food and company) is the sabbatical exercise: Keep those note reading brain cells firing!

So you're cruising along in C major, no sweat, pulling out the tunes, making the singers sound great and it's time for the big epic finish! Suddenly the music modulates up a semitone to grab our heartstrings and give them one more yank....we're in C sharp major! Do you know how many sharps are in that key? (no, I'm actually really asking....). While the audience is being lifted into Broadway heaven, we're sweating through twenty four bars of playing by ear, hoping the tune is the same in this key!

Wow. After six hours of that, I was wiped, we all were. But boy I was happy! I never felt pressure or judgement. I felt comradery, and satisfaction, even playing music that isn't to my (possibly) snobbish taste. It's just good leadership: Let your people work, laugh with them when it goes awry, admit your own mistakes, and forgive other people's, orchestrate the creation of a unit to move the music in concert! I guess that's why they call it a concert. It's going to be fun. It's only a semitone up, lets go!


Oct 26, 2017 at 00:36

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